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Argentinian Wine History

Argentina has an incredibly interesting wine history. At one time, Argentina consumed over twenty-two gallons of wine per person every year.

However, that number has drastically reduced over the years. This is largely thanks to the Argentine wine industry revolutionizing and modernizing its production methods.


Argentina’s wine history dates back to the 1600s when Spanish missionaries brought vines from Spain into Mendoza and San Juan. These were the first grapes to be planted in the country and laid the foundation of its viticulture industry for hundreds of years.

Up until the mid-1990s, Argentina’s wine industry almost exclusively focused on domestic consumption, producing mostly inexpensive wines that were blends from many different grapes. Then, in the 1990s, economic changes and new national and international investors helped shift the course of Argentinian wine – reviving its exports to Europe and the United States.

Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world and produces a diverse range of wines from high-altitude vineyards that span North West to South West Argentina. Using this rich heritage of varieties, winemakers are now crafting world-class vintages that go beyond Malbec, the region’s seminal grape variety. Aromatic Torrontes, electric Chardonnay, exciting Pinot Noir, adaptable Cabernet Franc and fruity Bonarda are among the styles gaining in popularity.


Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, and is the number one in South America. The country has a wide range of wines from dry and spicy reds to fresh and crisp whites, playful sparkling wines and sweet dessert wines.

Traditionally, the majority of the vineyards in Argentina have been cultivated with red grape varieties. The best known of these are Torrontes and Malbec, although Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay also have a role to play in the production of Argentine wines.

Other notable varietals include Bonarda, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Argentine reds are renowned for their rich aromas and flavors.


In a broad sense, the cultivation of Argentinian wine has a very long history. Spanish missionaries brought vine cuttings to Santiago del Estero in the 1500s, and production spread to neighboring regions and other parts of Argentina.

In the 1800s, French soil expert Michel Pouget imported the Malbec grape from Cahors and planted it in Mendoza to improve viticulture. This led to the emergence of a new varietal that helped Argentina gain its first global reputation as a producer of good quality wines.

But that was only the beginning. The 1850s saw a wave of immigration from Europe as vineyards were devastated by phylloxera, and the completion of the Transandine Railway in 1885 connected Mendoza to the larger market of Buenos Aires.

While Argentina was gaining new consumers, many wineries struggled to make money due to low profit margins. This situation encouraged some smart wineries to reinvest their profits in improving outdated processes and shifting to quality over quantity.


Argentinian wine history has seen a long and rich tradition of wine making. The country’s topographical diversity, local know-how and new technologies have shaped its wines into an incredible variety of styles.

During the 16th century, Spanish missionaries introduced the Criolla grape to Argentina. Initially the wine made was rustic and unrefined.

But, with the influx of European immigrants, wine drinking increased significantly in Argentina. Per capita consumption rose from 23 liters in the 1870s to 62 liters in 1914.

However, the economic crisis in 1929 caused a fall in per capita wine consumption and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the industry began to grow again.

After that, the country embarked on a long journey of modernising its wine industry and adapting to the export market. This was helped by the devaluation of the peso in 2002 which lowered the cost of producing wine and encouraged its exports.



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